January 15th Residential Burglary & Auto Theft

You may have seen some recent Neighbor Next Door postings discussing the theft of a resident’s car from his garage here in SCSH. These are the facts as reported by the Indio Police Department:

On Sunday morning, January 15, 2017 just prior to 7:41 AM two non-residents, a 32-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman, jumped over the 40th Avenue wall and into a yard on Camino Vallecito with the intent to comb the neighborhood and steal mail. While looking for mail to boost, they happened upon a Camino Vallecito residence with the garage door open and unattended. They entered the unoccupied garage and found a car with the keys in its ignition. They entered the car and using the keys found in the ignition, started the car and drove away when the owner/resident re-entered his garage and saw what was happening. He immediately telephoned 9-1-1 and reported the theft to the Indio Police Department. He next called security.

The IPD sent officers into our area and prior to contacting the victim, searched the neighborhood looking for the stolen car. After no success with their effort, they contacted the victim and completed the theft report. Information about the theft was entered into the Stolen Vehicle System (SVS) database for dissemination to all law enforcement agencies.

A short while later, a Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy discovered an unattended vehicle parked behind the Wal-Mart Store on Monterey Street in Palm Desert. A passerby told the Deputy the vehicle’s occupants, a man and woman, had just parked the car and walked into a nearby store and pointed them out. The Deputy contacted both people. Their stories did not coincide with each other or the ownership of the vehicle. By this time, the Deputy learned of the SVS entry and learned it was ‘a stolen.’

Working with the Indio Police Department, the Deputy arrested both individuals and searched the stolen car for additional evidence, finding a starter pistol (incapable of firing a projectile) and a ski mask in the car, along with a quantity of mail bearing Sun City Shadow Hills addresses. Charged with Residential Burglary, Grand Theft-Auto, and Possession of Stolen Property, the two suspects were booked into jail. The stolen car was recovered and returned to the victim.

Nobody suffered physical injury in this incident. The starter pistol and mask were also not involved in this incident.

Lessons to take away from this incident:

  1. Never leave ignition keys in a car, regardless of where it is parked.
  2. Never leave your garage door open – even briefly, when unattended.
  3. Always call 9-1-1 first for this kind of event.
  4. Understand that this was a crime of opportunity. Our security officers cannot be in all places at all times and need us to help ourselves by not making it easy for the crooks.
  5. Although Sun City Shadow Hills has a very low crime rate – it is not impervious to crime! Be aware!
  6. Please do not spread rumors based on innuendo or incomplete information.

By Ed Chavez
Safety Advisory Committee